On a visit to Earls Colne, Essex, England in August 2006, Alan Macfarlane and Sarah Harrison, questioned by Kenong Guan and filmed by Xiaoxiao Yan, reflect on the historical projects they have been engaged in between 1973 and the present. Twenty-two short film interviews with Alan Macfarlane (and one of Sarah Harrison).


A visit to Earls Colne Church: Ralph Josselin, and the origins of individualism.

The wealth and continuity of life in an English parish over a period of five hundred years.

Leaving England in order to see England.

Anthropology, the need for comparison and the absence of a peasantry in England.

Why we chose to study Earls Colne.

How the Earls Colne project was organized.

The continuity of English history and the undermining of historical certainties.

The influence of a history teacher.

Reactions to critics of 'The Origins of English Individualism'.

The nature of peasant society and what made England different.

Feudalism in England and Japan.

Japan and China and their differences.

The difference between islands and continents in political and economic structure.

How the English legal system affected the family; the links to capitalism.

The ancient woodland of England.

How landed property worked in England.

Private, public and semi-private property in England and its link to capitalism.

The influence of the study of Earls Colne on other writings.

The great divergence between Europe and China.

What individualism means and how it occurred.

Some reasons for the controversy over 'English Individualism' and replies to critics.

Modifications to the original argument in 'Origins of English Individualism' in later work.